A friend on Facebook linked to this article
from New York
magazine, about how Americans aren't as pro-choice as we'd all like to think. (Warning: somewhat NSFW image on the first page.) It's a thought-provoking article; I take the author's conclusion as being, basically, that pro-choice people ought to spend more time acknowledging the "moral complexity" of the abortion debate.
I couldn't possibly disagree more.
Of all the issues currently up for debate, I see abortion rights as being a pretty simple one. Yes, it may be unclear just when life begins and how much we ought to consider granting any putative rights to fetuses. However, none of that matters
. There is nothing that can possibly justify the evil of government forcing women to be pregnant when they don't want to be pregnant. Whatever the harm resulting from destroying fetuses, it cannot
exceed the harm to women when the law tells them their bodies aren't their own.
That it even enters into our minds
to consider that supposed fetal rights might justify forced pregnancy is evidence that Americans haven't really assimilated the first-class citizenship of women.
This is not to say that the choice to have an abortion, or not, isn't ever difficult
for an individual woman. But that's not what the abortion debate is about. The debate is about whether women should have the choice
in the first place. Being pro-choice
is about respecting the difficulty of that question and acknowledging that all solutions other than leaving it up to the individual woman whose body is at stake are worse than anything that can come of respecting women's autonomy.
Relatedly, I'd love to hear people stop saying that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. What I'd like to see become rare
is women ruining their lives, and quite possibly those of their future children, because the pro-forced-pregnancy movement guilted them into turning a single mistake into a lifetime burden. (And yes, I do believe that much of the supposed emotional ambivalence about abortion is manufactured; advertising can be very effective at manipulating emotions, and to acknowledge that that manipulation exists is not to downplay the intelligence of the manipulated.) Once that's rare, once nobody brings a child into the world out of guilt, maybe then we can work on making abortion rare. Then again, I'm not sure that wouldn't be putting the cart before the horse. Maybe we could work on creating the kind of world where women can carry condoms, or take birth control when they're not in a relationship, without being made to feel like "sluts", and then abortion rates would go down as a side effect. It's just a thought.
When I say that we ought not to concede "moral complexity", I don't mean to say that persuading the public to accept reproductive freedom is going to be simple -- not at all. But that's because persuading the public to accept that women are human beings has never been simple, and won't be simple for a very long time. It's not because whether to force women to give birth is a morally complex
If you agree, consider donating to the National Network of Abortion Funds
, which -- if done via the link -- will go towards my goal of raising $290 for the NNAF by my birthday! (End of shameless plug. If you don't use Facebook, you can donate to them directly, and that'll be just great too.)